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This page will serve as a guide for starting and maintaining a garden, one of the oldest and most important traditions of human civilization.
The essential principles of a garden are simple: our goal is to
1) build plants with the resources available to us,
2) artificially maintain plant life cycles so they are productive to us.*
We are uniquely positioned in history in the sense that the biodiversity of plant material available to us (in 2021, in America) is immense. You can go into a supermarket to obtain live herbs and flowers that were once only found in the far reaches of the world. You can put them by a window and have an honest-to-goodness garden without the need for a plot of land. If you have the privilege of access to some kind of arable land and the ambition, you can work wonders -- the Earth's first magic -- with just a shovel, watering can, and organic material.
* I mean "artificially" in the sense of: with artifice, in direct opposition to what is "natural," i.e. the present shadow of preexisting orders. And I mean "productive" with all of the post-Marxist jargon already attached to the word.
There are two basic ways to build plants. You can start them from seed, as they would propagate in their natural habitat. Many species of plants can also be cloned with a cutting, a process by which a stalk of a plant is severed and placed in some media (e.g. a water bottle, the ground) to take root and become a genetically identical copy of the parent. Both of these methods are guided by the same idea: plant matter (e.g. a branch or seed) stores bioinformation, which allows it to respond to external conditions (e.g. temperature, humidity, aqueous nutritional availability).
A seed will not germinate nor will a plant grow and thrive if external conditions do not fall within some range. It is your job as the gardener to ensure that these conditions are met and maintained. Each plant has different nutritional requirements, and ensuring that your root media has all of these things is your primary aim. These days, the simplest solutions are compost and plant food, which you can find and obtain pre-manufactured in places like Walmart or The Home Depot. (Alternatively, you can make your own compost with your own organic waste, and if you are particularly ambitious, you might find a way to organize your local community's organic waste into composting bins for garden use. Coffee grinds and seafood remains are extremely valuable for compost use, to give you organizer-types some ideas.)
There are a great many YouTube channels (MIGardener as an example) that show you the visual process of planting and composting in great depth. Watch them: it is a great blessing to have access to this kind of knowledge in this kind of way.
Plants undergo a natural life cycle, whose stages (e.g. flowering, fruiting) can be extended for the joy of our production. There is a wealth of already-available information for specific plants and how to care for them, but the general process is one of signaling:
1) signaling to the plant where and how to direct the materials taken from the soil or rooting media (i.e. pruning, "plants grow toward the sun")
2) signaling to the plant the time of day or season (e.g. with cannabis and the color, intensity, and duration of light)
As an example, petunia flowers will spend their energy flowering, and then producing seed pods. After the seed pods form, a biological signal is sent for the plant to die, enabling the seeds to spread into the ground. By pruning off the dead flowers, we prolong the flowering process by continually halting seed production, redirecting the plant's productive energy.
A massive part of productive gardening involves leveraging plants' tendencies for apical dominance. We might think of a plant stalk like the head of a hydra: where you cut off one stem, two will grow from beneath it. The apex stem produces a hormone that inhibits the growth of lower shoots, and when removed, the lower shoots grow and compete with one another. If we give a plant a suitably large rooting volume and enough nutrients, we can exponentially (literally, up to a point) increase the yield of a plant with each successive pruning.
Pruning also allows us to be selective in the yield of our plants: for some vegetables, like tomatoes, it is favorable to prune new shoots ("suckers") off as they develop. This allows for the plant's energy (synthesizing sugar and putting it in fruits) to be more densely concentrated into a fewer number of fruits.
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